“This is a tale for our time, an allegory about intervening in foreign lands without knowledge, and so a nightmare vision of our endless wars.”



This short book at 179 pages is a mystery of sorts. It’s the tale of 2 men hired to build a road in some unnamed third world country after a civil war has ended. They are not given names, but numbers. Four is an older, steady hand who has been hired by this company many times before. Nine is brand new to the work.

Four is responsible for the actual building of the road. He rides atop a very new piece of machinery that paves and paints the road in a perfect way. Nine must scout ahead, removing debris and fixing any problems before Four and the machine arrive. They are both under strict instructions, no talking to the people living along the road, no discussions with any rogue rebel troops still in the area.

They have their own food and medical supplies. They have a certain number of days to complete the road, at which time a major parade is planned along the length of the road, uniting both sides of the country.

Four does his job exactly as he is expected to, but Nine is a wild card, talking to and eating with the locals, not performing his duties, and at times, not even returning to camp overnight. It is Nine’s behavior that changes the way Four must complete his work, and Nine’s behavior puts the job, and possibly their lives in jeopardy.

A real page turner that you can knock off on a weekend, it is well thought out and written.

Highly recommended.


Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 17th June 2019

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Richard Franco